Partial hiring freeze is ordered by mayor

August 11, 1994|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

Seeking to head off possible layoffs, Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. ** Schmoke said today that he is imposing an immediate hiring freeze for all city workers except for police officers and teachers.

The freeze is expected to last until the end of the current fiscal year next June 30, the mayor said.

Mr. Schmoke said at his weekly press briefing that the freeze was necessary because of projections that money flowing to city government from income and property taxes would grow only by a paltry 1 percent July 1, 1995.

"I am ordering a complete personnel hiring freeze for all departments, excluding the hiring of police and teachers as appropriate to meet enrollment needs. This action is necessary to minimize what may be the need for layoffs next year as we prepare our next year's budget," he said.

Mr. Schmoke said he could not say immediately how many positions might be affected or how much money might be saved. But a freeze imposed in 1989 saved between $2 and $3 million, he said.

By imposing the freeze now, the mayor said, the city will be able to meet its contractual obligations to its unions.

The freeze should not affect city services, Mr. Schmoke said.

Despite the city's financially-strapped condition, Mr. Schmoke defended the nickel cut in the city's property tax rate in the current fiscal year to $5.85 per $100 of assessed value. He said he expects an updated long-term strategic financial plan for the city to continue to call for continued small annual cuts in the property tax rate, which is the highest in the state.

"By providing people with property tax relief, even minimal, it's a positive sign to our middle class homeowners. It helps us in some way to combat the flight from the city," he added.

But Mr. Schmoke said any long-term solution to the city's fiscal problems would have to involve "important assistance" from the state and federal government, such as a state takeover of the Circuit Court system.

The takeover of the Circuit Court and the city state's attorney's office would save the city $19 million a year, the mayor said.

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